Breaking the Taboo: How your Menstrual Cycle Affects your Performance in the Weight RoomAuthor: Coach Nick Book
Ladies, let’s be real. We don’t always love discussing menstrual cycles. It’s a taboo topic that we don’t love to bring up. But did you know that your periods can have a direct effect on your athletic performance? That’s right! Your menstrual cycle can impact your strength, stamina, and overall performance in the weight room. And if you’re trying to crush your fitness goals, it’s time to learn how your cycle can impact your workout.
The Menstrual Cycle (MC)
The menstrual cycle is the series of changes a woman’s body goes through each month to prepare for a possible pregnancy. The cycle is controlled by hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. These hormones play a key role in affecting mood, energy levels, and overall athletic performance, especially during the monthly visit from your Aunt Flo.
What happens during the MC?
During your menstrual cycle, your hormone levels are constantly fluctuating. So it’s no surprise that your performance in the gym can be impacted by the ups and downs of your cycle. During the first phase of your cycle, which lasts about 1-2 weeks, your estrogen levels are on the rise. This can actually increase your muscle strength, meaning you may feel more powerful than usual during this time.
However, as your cycle progresses, your hormone levels shift again. During the second half of your cycle, your progesterone levels increase, and estrogen levels decrease. This shift can cause a decrease in your energy levels and overall athletic performance. Plus, the hormonal changes can affect your mood and motivation to hit the gym.
But don’t fret! There are ways to work with your cycle and use it to your advantage in the weight room. Start by tracking your cycle each month and noticing patterns. If you notice you feel stronger during a specific time of the month, plan your heavier lifting workouts during this time. If you feel lethargic during the second half of your cycle, opt for lighter, endurance-based workouts like yoga or Pilates.
It’s also important to listen to your body during each phase of your cycle. If you’re feeling fatigued during your period, take a day of rest and don’t push yourself too hard in the gym. Your body is going through a lot during your cycle, and sometimes we just need to give ourselves a break.
Lastly, consider incorporating certain foods and supplements into your diet that can support hormonal balance and improve your athletic performance. Foods like whole grains, leafy greens, and lean proteins can help support your body during each phase of your cycle. And supplements like magnesium, B-vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids can help support hormonal balance and reduce inflammation.